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April 26, 2011, 7:00 PM

Wallace Stevens: Words That Matter

Poetry Reading & Discussion
Participants: Susan Howe & Joan Richardson

The Library of America edition of Wallace Stevens's Collected Poetry and Prose was for a long time its bestseller. It continues to be among the top three best-selling volumes in all categories. Joan Richardson, author of a definitive biography of Stevens, argues that no poet writing in English since John Milton has used the language as richly and as provocatively, across as many registers of experience and perception. For this event, Richardson will join poet Susan Howe to expand on their long-standing dialogue about poets and words that matter, to evoke Marianne Moore's 1923 review of Stevens. A reading and discussion of Stevens's work will consider the major impact it has made on American literature.

Susan Howe is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and literary criticism. Her most recent works include Souls of the Labadie Tract and Poems Found in a Pioneer Museum. Her critical study, My Emily Dickinson, was re-issued in 2007 with an introduction by Eliot Weinberger, and she recently released two CDs in collaboration with the musician/composer David Grubbs. Howe held the Samuel P. Capen Chair in Poetry and the Humanities at the State University New York at Buffalo until her retirement in 2007. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Howe was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999, and served as a Chancellor to the Academy of American Poets between 2000-2006. Her latest volume, That This, was recently awarded the Bollington Prize. During a Fellowship to the American Academy at Berlin, Howe completed a new work, Frolic Architecture, forthcoming with illustrations by the photographer James Welling.

Joan Richardson is Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and American Studies at CUNY's Graduate Center. She is the author of a two-volume biography of the poet Wallace Stevens, and she co-edited, with Frank Kermode, Wallace Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose. Her essays on Stevens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Jonathan Edwards have been published in the The Wallace Stevens Journal and Raritan. Other essays and reviews have appeared in Configurations, The Hopkins Review, Bookforum, and other journals. Richardson's study, A Natural History of Pragmatism: The Fact of Feeling from Jonathan Edwards to Gertrude Stein, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007 and has been nominated for the 2011 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. She is currently at work on another volume, Pragmatism and American Culture, as well as a book-length study, The Return of the Repressed: Stanley Cavell and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.


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